Tuesday, February 1, 2011
DJ AFRO-Free (Nacional Records, 2011)
Well, apparently my prayers were heard by someone and Los Amigos Invisibles' front guitar and main composer, DJ Afro, is releasing a solo album with all the stuff I like about them (which invariably comes from him) and none of the cheesy sing-along post-pubescent party-anthems that make everybody dance and bring all the hot girls to their concerts but somehow annoys me.
A few years ago Afro released a collection of house remixes (Will Work For Fun) that includes many great tracks that are still mandatory on my Latin house sets and will probably remain there for a long time. My only issue with that album was that all the tracks where almost exactly 126 BPM, which I guess is great if you wanna play the whole album back-to-back as a mixtape, but if you wanna mix it in with other stuff, it'd help to have a little more variety of tempos.
That problem is solved in Free, the new release by DJ Afro, coming out in digital format today, but on CD in a couple of months (no announcements about possible vinyl, but it'd be great too). Unlike Will Work For Fun that was mainly remixes and versions and collaboration with other artists, Free is mostly all new original stuff. There's plenty of loungy Latin house, of course, but there's also other genres, including... CUMBIA! Yes, DJ Afro joined the bandwagon of the ñu-cumbia revolution and I applaud it and welcome it.
It's great because, coming from him, I would've expected a more housey approach to cumbia, but instead he went down to cumbia's traditional tempo and mixed up influences and clichés from Mexico's sonidera and Argentina's villera resulting in something refreshingly new in the hands of a Venezuelan.
Los Amigos Invisibles, as far as I know, experimented with pretty much every Latin music genre that was available out there except for cumbia (cumbia was not particularly popular in Venezuela during the past three decades [it was for a little bit before that, but then it faded away] where merengue and salsa romántica ruled the mainstream airwaves at the same time cumbia was spreading out throughout the rest of the continent). So hearing a cumbia from one of Amigos's members really made my day today.